Archive for November 23rd, 2009

Community minister commits to helping those in need

| 23/11/2009 | 15 Comments

CNS): Minster for Community Affairs and Housing Mike Adam has said that with government’s financial commitment to the ministry he aims to revitalize the relevant services and offer immediate assistance to those most in need in the Cayman Islands community. With efforts now underway to enhance government agency and community worker capabilities for addressing family structure and broader societal stress,  Adam said the goal was to plan for the long term needs of the islands’ most vulnerable people. Formally opening a major training project in his ministry Adam emphasized the government’s allocation of significant resources to more effectively meet community needs.

“At the end of the day, our communities need to see that meaningful and effective services will be delivered,” the Minister said. “This is a critical aspect of re-developing and re-focusing the approaches, and I look forward to seeing the end results.”

The ministry aims to improve inter-ministerial collaboration to address youth issues and has also committed financial support for non-governmental organizations such as churches and service clubs.

The staff development programme started last week and the aim is to empower and mobilise communities via team-building exercises, while equipping staff to meet district challenges.

Government said that the major objectives of this concentrated public service re-development are to incorporate community development officers into the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and to develop strategies for addressing such issues as unemployment, juvenile delinquency, teen pregnancy and the needs of the elderly.

The University of the West Indies’ Dr Peta-Anne Baker has been temporarily engaged to serve as the training facilitator, as well as to help evaluate and effect the transition to DCFS. Her experience includes agency management, programme planning, community education and leadership programme design and implementation. She is also an author and conference presenter. Dr Baker’s assignment in the Cayman Islands includes meetings with senior officials, determining further agency training needs, and preparing a final evaluation and a recommendation report.

So far, there has been no mention of the National Assessment of Living Conditions project which was conducted under the previous administration and revealed detailed and distressing evidence of genuine poverty in the Cayman Islands.

CNS has asked the ministry if the report will be involved in shaping goals and policies and is awaiting a response.

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Cayman scene featured in Commonwealth report

| 23/11/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): An environmentally themed photograph taken in the Cayman Islands was chosen as the cover image for the report on the Commonwealth Health Ministers’ Meeting 2009, which explored the risks to human health posed by climate change in the Commonwealth and the effective policy responses for managing these risks. Local writer Guy P. Harrison took the photo in East End in 2001. Previously it had won first place in the Caribbean/Canada region of the BBC Commonwealth Photography Contest and took third place overall for the entire Commonwealth. The image was also displayed as part of an exhibition in a museum in Australia.

Harrison says he took the shot when he noticed that his three year-old son, Jared, made the decision to wade around a lone mangrove plant that stood in his direct path rather than step on it.

“It was powerful. I saw that scene as hope for the future,” says Harrison.“If a child can choose conservation over needless destruction, then maybe one day adults can too. If a little boy can appreciate life and let it be, then maybe in the future everyone can be that wise. I never imagined that this photo would earn so much mileage over the years, but I’m glad it has because I think it presents a crucial message people in the Cayman Islands and around the world need to consider.”

With the theme of “Health and Climate Change”, this year’s CHMM was held in Geneva, Switzerland, on 17 May.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma noted in the forward to the report that, over the last decade, the global community had accepted the inevitability of climate change, and the need for urgent measures to mitigate its impact. “We face a challenge that requires radical changes in behaviour to slow the pace and extent of climatic changes on societies,” he wrote.

“The challenges the Commonwealth will face are enormous. Among our number are small island states which are already at the front line, experiencing sea level rises and even contemplating the traumatic prospect of migration. Most have made the smallest of contributions to global warming and carbon footprints, or none at all, but are feeling the greatest impacts. Almost all are experiencing more frequent extreme weather events, such as heat waves, floods, and hurricanes.”

Furthermore. he noted that climate change would place tremendous pressure on health systems, as the basic health challenges associated with food security, water and infectious diseases, and disaster preparedness increase in frequency and severity.

For a link to the report, click here.

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Snow forecast at Camana Bay

| 23/11/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Promising a winter wonderland, complete with a rare tropical snow storm, Camana Bay begins its Christmas season on Tuesday evening with its annual Christmas tree lighting event. The Cayman National Choir and Orchestra, the Cayman International School and Cayman Prep School choirs will be singing carols from 6:00pm on The Crescent. According to a release, the centre stage for the town this holiday season is a 24-foot Christmas tree adorned with hundreds of sparkling lights. Santa Claus will also make a much-anticipated appearance to light up the Camana Bay Christmas.

The Christmas Craft Market will also be open, where local artists will be selling an array of crafts and gifts, including products by several of Cayman’s Junior Achievement groups. The regular stores in the town  will also be open during the celebration.

Camana Bay is also promising snow on a number of other occasions on the build up to Christmas. Following the first flurry on Tuesday 24 November, snow is forecast for Saturday 28 November at the Children’s Book Festival;  Wednesday 2 December for the Evening Market at The Grounds;  Saturday 5 December for Cayman Jazz Fest;  Saturday 12 December for the Parade of Lights and then on the 19, 21, 22, 23 and 24 December as the last shopping days.

For more information on events at Camana Bay’s Town Centre, visit

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Cops offer few details on weekend crimes

| 23/11/2009 | 14 Comments

(CNS):  Despite the drastic reduction in information being released into the public domain by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, there does not seem to have been a corresponding reduction in the level of crime. Police said that there were a total of 16 arrests over the course of the weekend, including four for assault, two for possession of a prohibited weapon, and one for possession of an offensive weapon. CNS has requested details of the assaults but has been told that there is no more information available.

In response to enquiries regarding the nature of the weapons, the police did confirm that none of the three suspects who were arrested on weapons offences had firearms. No other information has been offered, however, regarding the other nine arrests.

The RCIPS said it was continuing to plough ahead with its no tolerance approach towards crime and has vowed to remain persistent in its fight. The police are warning those that commit offences that they will be arrested and be held accountable and the RCIPS is urging anyone who has information relating to crime taking place in their neighbourhood to contact their local police station. People can also call Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS).

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LIME starts its local Christmas giveaway

| 23/11/2009 | 0 Comments

(CNS): Local telecoms provider is promising “something for everyone” in its Christmas promotion.  LIME says it is giving away hundreds of gifts and prizes between now and January 20010 including smart-phones, dvds, MP3 players and cash. Customers have a chance to win a cash jackpot of CI$10,000 during the promotion which LIME bosses say will give everyone a chance to get something. The weekly draws will begin on November 24 and culminate on January 6, 2010 with the grand prize draw where a lucky LIME customer will win the jackpot.

“We know that 2009 has been a challenging year and we’re using our Christmas Promotion to give back to our customers and say a big thank you for their support,” said Tony Ritch Country Manager, LIME Cayman Islands. “So this year in addition to giving away a major cash prize of CI$10,000 we’re giving away hundreds of free gifts – including BlackBerry Smartphones. There will be hundreds of instant prizes and we’re also offering free talk time, bonus credit and discounts on most of our services, so practically every customer has a chance to win something from LIME this Christmas.”

Customers will automatically qualify for the prize draws when they: top up their prepaid phones; pay any LIME bill in full and on time; talk for a total of five minutes in one day; sign up for a new service or upgrade an existing service; or if they sign up for a e-account or to pay their LIME bills by direct debit.

Customers can also qualify for the prize draws by texting “XMAS” to LIME (5463).  Customers who opt to text also have a chance to win instant prizes including DVDs and MP3 players, diaries, toys, games and Michael Jackson CDs.  Each text costs CI$1.00.

LIME said it will also be rewarding its mobile customers with free talk time and bonus credit during the Christmas Season.   Postpaid mobile customers will be able to call any LIME mobile free of charge every Sunday from December 6 to December 27. And, prepaid mobile customers can win up to CI$200 in instant credit if they top-up with CI$20 or more during the Christmas Season. New landline, mobile and internet customers will be rewarded with special free gifts and discounts on service contracts. New customers signing up for a one-year contract for any postpaid service will receive one month free of charge while those signing up for two-year contracts will get two months free.  All new prepaid mobile customers will receive 25% on-net bonus credit the first time they top-up their new phones. 

 In addition, anyone who buys a BlackBerry Smartphone from LIME and who signs up for a new prepaid or postpaid service will get a free gift.

“For anyone who may be thinking about signing up for a new service from LIME, Christmas is definitely the time to do so because many of our products and service packages are now discounted and we’re giving a free gift to every new customer. So whether you’re a new or existing customer, LIME has something special for you,” Ritch said.


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Cayman’s financial intelligence unit has busy year

| 23/11/2009 | 1 Comment

(CNS): Some 320 reports of untoward financial goings on were reported to Cayfin during the 2008/2009 financial year compared to 247 the year before, representing a 29% increase in cases. The Financial Reporting Authority said 284 of those were completed before the fiscal year end and the organisation continued to work on the other 36. In its annual report the authority said that 61%of the cases reported to it were suspicious activity reports or fraud, while drug trafficking and tax evasion made up only 6% of the reports made to Cayfin this past year. (Director of Cayfin Lindsey Cacho)

The FRA, which is widely known as Cayfin, is a Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) created by the Proceeds of Crime Law (2008), which came into force on 30 September 2008.  It is the Cayman Islands’ national agency responsible for receiving, requesting, analysing and disseminating disclosures of financial information concerning proceeds of criminal conduct, or in order to counter money laundering, terrorism, the financing of terrorism or suspicions of any of those crimes.

According to the report, total cases that the Cayman Islands investigates has increased steadily over the past five years, with 2008/09 representing the authority’s busiest year. The 320 cases it dealt with this year involved 435 legal entities and 545 people.

“During the past year we witnessed an increase of suspicious activities reported by the financial service providers, as well as requests for information coming from our overseas counterparts,” Lindsey Cacho, the director of the Financial Reporting Authority, says in his opening message in the report. “In spite of the economic downturn facing these islands as well as its effects worldwide, these increases may very well be attributed to the continued vigilance undertaken by the financial service providers and other entities.”

Despite the number of cases reported to Cayfin, however, well over one third was not acted upon. The FRA says that once it receives information regarding a potential crime, it is reviewed and a determination is made regarding onward disclosure. “Intelligence which does not meet the threshold for disclosure is retained in our confidential database pending any future developments,” the report stated.

Of the 320 cases received, 118 required no further action, 63 cases were disclosed to local law enforcement agencies, and onward disclosures to overseas agencies totalled 35, the report reveals. Cayfin says it released information to 36 different countries and noted that some cases were disclosed to multiple nations because of the international nature of the potential crimes. The United States made the most information requests, followed by the UK.

Almost a third of all cases reported to Cayfin came from banks; overseas financial intelligence units provide 20% of the reports and attorney’s 9%. The report also noted that this year there was a significant increase in reports coming from independent directors and the real estate sector.

The subjects of the reports came from 64 different countries and the greatest number was from the United States. The Cayman Islands was the next highest with 56 subjects being reported up from 36 last year.

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Screws turn on tax havens

| 23/11/2009 | 0 Comments

(Sydney Morning Herald): There is little love lost between business and the Tax Office at the best of times, but when the Tax Commissioner, Michael D’Ascenzo, lobbed a grenade at the international investors who had made a $1.5 billion profit selling their Myer Holdings’ shares to the public, the shrapnel flew around the world. Not only had the Tax Office challenged the right of buyout specialist Texas Pacific Group’s clients to keep almost $680 million from the Myer float, but its targeting of the first and largest Australian IPO of an expected avalanche of new company listings as the sharemarket rebounds from the global financial crisis sent an ominous message to the financial wizards.

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TJI cuts own workforce

| 23/11/2009 | 23 Comments

(CNS): There is still no good news for the hundreds of workers laid off due to the standstill on the school projects after the general contractor downed tools some ten days ago.  Tom Jones International walked off the job on 13 November claiming the government did not have the resources to complete the two new high schools. Since then the sub-contractors have been forced to lay off hundreds of local workers at a time when unemployment is running at an all time high for Cayman. CNS understands that TJI has now also laid-off the workers it was directly employing. (Left: the Clifton Hunter site is deserted after workers were laid off.)

Although a meeting was reportedly held between the contractor and the Ministry of Education last week, CNS has been informed that the meeting was held on a ‘without prejudice’ basis and should we report any details from it, the contractor’s lawyers have told CNS it will take legal action against us. TJI refused to comment about the number of workers it has let go or confirm any questions posed by CNS about the exact size of the payment it wanted to start work on the sites but made it clear the ball was in the ministry’s court.

“The company continues to be available to discuss a global resolution of all the issues relating to the school project,” a spokesperson for TJI said this weekend. “These issues would be resolved well before Christmas should the ministry so desire.”

With no sign of any advancement in the dispute, the ministry is also remaining silent on the issue, though CNS has submitted questions to the education minister on what he can do to get the project moving again. So far, Rolston Anglin has made no move to answer TJI’s long statement last week in which he offered his opinions about the schools and made it clear that unless he was to receive not just advance payments but some for financial security the project would not re-start. TJI said that it was not satisfied with a line item in the budget, which is all the guarantee that government was offering and was exercising its rights under the contract to ask government to provide assurance “in the form of a trust or a payment bond, that it has the financial wherewithal to meet on time its financial obligations to complete the schools. Government has steadfastly refused to provide such assurances,” the statement said

The impasse between the government and the contractor will not only undermine the projected completion date to have the schools open in time for the start of the 2010/11 school year, but it is also having a devastating effect on a number of local sub-contractors whose businesses are now also in jeopardy, as well as adding to the country’s growing unemployment problem.

This is the second time that TJI has walked off the site and the previous education minister confirmed to CNS last week that during his tenure the threats to down tools started around Christmas 2008. Alden McLaughlin denied being intimidated by TJI but said he did what he could from a practical standpoint to keep the schools on track.

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Banks may abolish cheques

| 23/11/2009 | 0 Comments

(The Telegraph): Banks are to vote next month on a plan to abolish the cheque as a method of payment despite opposition from small businesses and consumer groups. About 3.8 million cheques are written every day in Britain, but the number has fallen by almost two-thirds in the last 20 years. A cheque costs up to £1 to process, four times more than an electronic money transfer. The Payments Council, which is a panel made up of representatives from the major banks, are to vote on the abolition of the cheque, which dates back to Persian and Roman times, on December 16.

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Biodiversity loss is ‘immense and hidden’ tragedy

| 23/11/2009 | 0 Comments

(The Guardian): The diversity of life on Earth is undergoing an "immense and hidden" tragedy that requires the scale of global response now being deployed to tackle climate change, according to one of the world’s most eminent biologists. Prof Edward Wilson, told the Guardian that the threat was so grave he is pushing for the creation of an international body of experts modelled on the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Wilson’s proposed organisation – which he names the Barometer of Life – would report to governments on the threats posed to species around the world.

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